American institutions are producing exactly that which they were designed to stop. Almost all the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection programs. Virtually all criminal justice candidates have been juvenile offenders. 2/3’s of these people have mental health problems (fully half of this number have multiple, serious, and chronic conditions – these are the dangerous and dysfunctional folks that so often make the news).
Much of what I write and speak makes people angry. Imagine what it’s like to be child protection worker or volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem and meet a seven year old boy that’s been tied to a bed, left alone for days at a time, starved, sexually abused, and beaten to a pulp with bruises covering his body. Or come to know very young girl that was prostituted by her mother.
When the media makes the story public, when a baby is found in a dumpster, we blame the social worker, then the mother, then the system. None of that helps. No amount of hate and blaming will bring back the 7 year old foster child that hung himself and left a note about how he didn’t like Prozac or make life better for the little girl that was kicked so hard by her abuser that she went into convulsions.
It’s not that the people doing the work are mean, lazy, or not trying their best. It’s not that. In fact, the social workers I’ve met (hundreds) have all been dedicated and well meaning people.
Blaming teachers for failed schools win’t fix the problem either.
A 17 year old drug using mother is the product of her environment. We are in our fifth, sixth, and seventh generation of abused and neglected children having their next generation of abused and neglected children.
For 30 years we the people have managed to avoid the conversation around the real issues of failing schools, unsafe neighborhoods, and where all these dysfunctional families are coming from. The onion peeling shows us layer after layer of things that don’t work that we can’t quit doing.
For all that is written about mental health, crime, and education, and the correlation between these three things, we have successfully avoided making any real progress in bettering the lives of the tens of millions of children living the cycle of drug abuse, child sex abuse, horrific beatings, and witnessing domestic violence that so certainly traumatize the developing young brain while costing society hundreds of billions of dollars and destroying whole cities (visit Flint or Detroit).
The World Health Organization defines torture as extended exposure to violence and deprivation. Every child in my case history suffered from extended exposure to violence and deprivation (half of them had been sexually abused).
When the truth about big pharma finally is made public, and people see the wicked things perpetrated upon very young children due to the lax oversight of giant and powerful industry, it will be too late for tens of millions of twice abused and beat-up children that will have little chance of rebuilding a brain and cobbling together enough coping skills to lead a productive life.
The kids I know from child protection suffer way into adulthood, and too often become that criminal or preteen mom statistic further insuring no nice days for this one.
Don’t forget that we the people have designed our institutions to work this way. Easy in, no way out. Criminal records are easy. Jobs become impossible for offenders and uneducated people to get.
There is no happiness without coping skills, the ability to read, having a job, and some level of a drug free, sober life.
Do something, do anything, (even it it’s wrong) to make this happen for these children.